Monday, September 19, 2011

Weeks Forty, Forty-One and Forty-Two Daily Journal

Week 40

Friday, July 1
Vientiane, Laos

We had a morning flight to Vientiane and we obviously hit up the Blue Pumpkin in the airport first.  When we got to Vientiane we checked into Auberge Sala Inpeng, a guesthouse with little bungalows in a great location.  We went to Full Moon Cafe for lunch and then walked around town getting our bearings.  Later we went to Sticky Fingers for dinner and to meet the owner who also owns the yoga studio.  Her bartender, Mr. Wong, was going to show us some apartments the next day.

Saturday, July 2
Vientiane, Laos

After breakfast at the guesthouse we spent a few hours walking around Vientiane, stopping in at apartment buildings and places with “for rent” signs.  We had no real luck.  We met up with Mr. Wong and he showed us two places – one was good, but it had no internet signal.  After splitting up with him we kept walking around and then we found a studio for rent at Faa Apartments.  The tenant was moving out the next day and we couldn’t see it until Sunday at 1pm.  Fingers crossed, we promised to come back.  We walked along the Mekong at sunset and then had dinner at Makpet, a place that’s affiliated with Romdeng in Phnom Penh.  It’s an NGO that trains disadvantaged kids to get jobs in the restaurant industry.

Sunday, July 3
Vientiane, Laos

We went back to Faa Apartments in the morning and she told us to come back at 1 to see the apartment.  We were increasingly nervous.  We bided our time at the Scandanavian Bakery, then went back, saw the apartment, and took it!  Whew!  We went to Fruit Heaven (around the corner from the apartment!) to celebrate with fruit shakes and then moved all our luggage over to our new apartment.  We rented a bike for the next day, and then walked down to the river and had dinner at a stall near the Mekong – spring rolls, chicken laap and soup.

Monday, July 4
Vientiane, Laos

Our first day of work!  After a quick fruit shakes and baguette breakfast at Fruit Heaven we scooted over to the offices of Rights-LINK Laos.  We met the staff, were shown around, and settled ourselves in.  We went to a local noodle shop for lunch with people from work, and then after word we went to a yoga class at Vientiane Yoga Studio.  Then we zoomed back to return the bike, went to Sticky Fingers to rent a motorbike for the month from Mr. Wong.  Then we headed to a bar called Khop Jai Dey (Thank You Very Much) for its July 4th party.  We met some people from work and their friends, and we ate (bad) cheeseburgers and fries.  A Laos man with a crazy mustache, who looked Mexican, was playing covers of everything from What a Wonderful World to Poker Face.  The American ambassador was there, so we went over and said hello.  A fun night!

Tuesday, July 5
Vientiane, Laos

Another workday.  We had lunch at a vegetarian buffet, which was okay (except the soup, which was really good).  After work we went grocery shopping, and then to the night market to pick up some food for dinner – roast pork and sticky rice for Dave, for J baguette and cheese from the supermarket (I didn't even realize how much I was craving bread and cheese until it was an option!)

Wednesday, July 6
Vientiane, Laos

Working.  We had lunch at a Vietnamese restuarant where you basically make your own spring rolls.  You take a piece of rice paper, dunk it in water to soften it, and then put lettuce, mint, rice noodles, cucumber, sauce, and a little piece of pork sausage inside, roll it all up and eat it.  Delish!  We met some of the other volunteers at Sticky Fingers for happy hour and dinner.

Thursday, July 7
Vientiane, Laos

Mango sticky rice pancake!
Workday.  We met the other volunteers for breakfast at Kung Cafe, where we had their speciality of sticky rice mango pancakes – YUM!  We had lunch at a local Thai place.  I wasn’t feeling great so I stayed in, but Dave went over to another volunteer’s house to hang out for the evening.

Week 41

Friday, July 8
Vientiane, Laos

I still wasn’t feeling well so I stayed home while Dave went to work.  That night we went to Yulala, a Japanese (but no sushi) restaurant around the corner, and then went home and took it easy.

Saturday, July 9
Vientiane, Laos

We spent the morning at Cafe Joma and then we went over to the baby party of a Rights-LINK employee.  When the baby is 2-3 months old they do a ceremony and then have a big party.  We missed the ceremony but made it to the party part – food and endless Beer Lao.  We had fun hanging out with our new coworkers, but not so much fun being forced to try some gross local moonshine.  Afterwards, we went shopping for some new shirts for Dave and had some soup for dinner.

Sunday, July 10
Vientiane, Laos

We went back to Joma for breakfast and then spent the afternoon at the gym, working out and then hanging by the pool.  We had good steaks (and horrible service) at a French restaurant.

Monday, July 11
Vientiane, Laos

Just another workday, although in the morning we went to the Chinese embassy to drop off our passports and visa applicaitnos.  We had lunch at PVO, a Vietnamese place, and hanging at the apartment in the evening with some bread and hummus.

Tuesday, July 12
Vientiane, Laos

After work today we checked out Benoni, upstairs from the supermarket we go to and next door to Joma.  New favorite cafe for sure!!  We had dinner at Osaka, a Japanese restaurant.  We had met the manager on one of our first days in Vientiane at a fried chicken stand and he invited us to go.  Unfortunatley, it was his day off, and the food was not so good.

Wednesday, July 13
Vientiane, Laos

We hit the gym before work and had really delicious noodle soup for lunch.  After work we went out with Khamla, Chinda, Viseth and Chinda’s husband to celebrate Khamla’s last night before Buddhist Lent, when she was giving up drinking.  Despite all the organ meat that had been ordered (which we tried but just could not enjoy) we had a really fun night.

Thursday, July 14
Vientiane, Laos

Work, gym.  We had lunch again at PVO, and dinner on the street – ok roast duck over rice.

Week 42

Friday, July 15
Vientiane, Laos

There was no work today because it was a religious holiday, so everything was closed.  We were going to go to the Chinese embassy to pick up our visas, but it was pouring rain, which sucks on a motorbike.  So we went to Benoni Cafe instead, and then to the gym when it stopped raining. Dave got a massage after his workout.  For dinner we had soup from a street stand and then went to Sticky Fingers for a half priced tom yom martini.  What a delicious spicy drink.

Saturday, July 16
Vientiane, Laos

Dave was not so interested in
the Lao Cultural Center show
We went back to Benoni’s in the morning.  That night, we went to the Laos Cultural Center to see a show put on by a US-based Laos organization, together with the US Embassy.  It was supposed to start at 7.  It started after 8, and after many excruciatingly boring speeches.  We stayed for a while and watched the performance, and then left for Chockdee Cafe, where we enjoyed Belgium beer and moules frites.

Sunday, July 17
Vientiane, Laos

We hung around in the morning and then met Vala and her sister at the mall.  The girls went shopping for skirt fabric and Dave hit the food court and then the gym.  Vala and I got haircuts, and then we all met up at the gym for massages.  For dinner we went to an Italian restaurant and had really good pizza.

Monday, July 18
Vientiane, Laos

Another workday.  I took my skirt to get tailored in the afternoon.  After work, we went to Kong Khao to have dinner and watch True Blood!  So exciting.  We especially loved that the owner’s puppy and kitten watched with us.

Tuesday, July 19
Vientiane, Laos

Work day, etc.  We checked out a Thai place for dinner – it was really good.

Wednesday, July 20
Vientiane, Laos

Went to pick up my skirt today but they had failed to account for my hips, blaming my “American body,” despite the fact that they had measured me, thanks.  So it had to be readjusted.  Dave had a soup from the beef soup place and I had a cheese sammy from Fruit Heaven for dinner.

Thursday, July 21
Vientiane, Laos

Today we checked out a fried chicken place near work.  It was delicious, but we definitely can’t make that a habit.  After work, gym etc we went to Kong Khao for dinner and their open mike/jam session/local talent night.  Only two performers went onstage (including the owner of the bar) but it was fun.

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